Brittney Griner, a US basketball player, has been transferred to a penal colony in Russia to serve her nine-year sentence after her appeal was rejected by the court for drug possession.
A week prior to Russia’s initiation of its conflict in Ukraine, the Olympic champion, who had won two gold medals, was apprehended at Moscow’s airport for possessing prohibited vape cartridges that contained cannabis oil.
The White House has denounced the conviction of Griner as yet another “judicial mockery” and is moving forward with plans to free her for an upcoming set of events.
Here’s a glimpse into the activities that take place within these correctional facilities:
Prisoners in Russia’s penal colonies are placed in individual cells instead of barracks, where they are forced to perform daily work. The harsh living conditions and brutality in these colonies have gained infamy.
Colonies additionally possess stricter security protocols and greater limitations on mobility.
Griner was sentenced to a low-security colony, as prisoners in penal colonies are divided into four categories based on the severity of the committed crime.
What are the circumstances?
Russia has approximately 700 correctional facilities and nearly 500,000 inmates, making it the most prevalent incarceration institution.
In just one year, specifically 2016, the European Court of Human Rights examined 64 lawsuits against Russia concerning its oppressive or cruel handling of incarcerated individuals. As per the rights organization Amnesty International, the circumstances within correctional facilities and penitentiaries are regarded as “among the most severe in the European continent”.
The punishment of pseudo-exile is thought to involve a type of isolation, which makes it challenging for family or human rights activists to visit. The facilities are situated in secluded areas, distant from urban centers.
Females are more likely to be sent thousands of kilometers away as there are only 46 correctional facilities for women.
To which location has Griner been dispatched?
On November 17, the lawyers of Griner stated that she had been relocated to the IK-2 Female Penal Colony in Yavas, a town approximately 300 kilometers southeast of Moscow in the Mordovia region of Russia.
The public was unaware of her precise location, but it was revealed that she had been moved from a detention center near the Russian capital to a penal colony on November 4th, according to her lawyers. The star WNBA player had been relocated during that time.
Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boikov, her attorneys, declared, “Brittney is coping as best as can be anticipated and endeavoring to remain resilient as she adjusts to a fresh surrounding.”
Paul Whelan is currently imprisoned in a separate correctional facility in Mordovia on charges related to espionage. It is worth noting that this region is also home to another American citizen.
The health of imprisoned opposition leader Alexey Navalny has significantly declined during his period in a correctional facility.
He wrote, “I consider the deterioration of my health to be a direct consequence of the deliberate actions and inaction of the employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service, who have been denying me proper medical care and undermining my health.”
Throughout the night, he was awakened by a sentinel every hour and emphasized the term “sleep deprivation torment.” Additionally, he mentioned not being provided with medical care for severe pain in his back and legs.
For what duration have Russian correctional settlements been in existence?
Penal colonies originated from the Soviet Union’s work camps known as gulags but even date back to at least the 18th century.
Prisoners were relocated to remote regions of Russia to withstand harsh living, work, and weather conditions, as well as being isolated from society.
Approximately 1.6 million individuals perished in the work camps. Between 1929 and the death of Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader, an estimated 18 million people were sentenced to gulags.